Commercialization: January 2016 Archives

Why investors are following Musk, Bezos in betting on the stars, Washington Post

"The new space investors are catching up with the slow, but growing development of the commercial space sector, which NASA has been fostering for years. With the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, NASA has awarded billions of dollars in contracts to commercial companies so that they could develop rockets to fly cargo and, eventually, astronauts to the International Space Station. Still, the industry is diverse, and different sectors are more advanced, and profitable, than others. Cubesats, the tiny satellites that can swarm around the Earth beaming back images of the planet, are already in high demand. Launching commercial and government satellites is also big business. But the emergence of other sectors, such as space tourism and asteroid mining, is still in the future."

Accomack Supervisors Blasted With Issues, Eastern Shore Post

"The rocket that malfunctioned at Wallops Island in October 2014 showed a grim picture of what could happen to nearby landowners. NASA's blast zone is worrying those who reside inside, people whose families have lived on the farms for generations. Some are scared of property damage while others are wondering just how the designation will shape their future. "It ought to be a big concern to anyone who lives in these circles," said Fred Darby of Assawoman, adding that those who live farther south haven't escaped because if his property values go down, those who live or own in Belle Haven or Parksley or elsewhere will have to "take up the slack." Darby warned, "There has to be a balance." And he noted the effect on the local "quality of life."

Blue Origin Flies New Shepard To Space - Again (with video)

"The very same New Shepard booster that flew above the Karman line and then landed vertically at its launch site last November has now flown and landed again, demonstrating reuse. This time, New Shepard reached an apogee of 333,582 feet (101.7 kilometers) before both capsule and booster gently returned to Earth for recovery and reuse."

Keith's 21 Jan note: This NOTAM - Notice to Airmen - has been issued by the FAA for the area where Blue Origin launches.

"!FDC 6/5414 ZAB TX. AIRSPACE VAN HORN, TX. TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS DUE TO SPACE FLIGHT OPERATIONS WI AN AREA DEFINED AS 17 NM RADIUS OF 3127N10446W OR THE SALT FLAT/SFL/VORTAC 125 DEGREE RADIAL AT 24 NM, SFC TO UNL. PURSUANT TO 14CFR SECTION 91.143 TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT. DLY 1300-2100 1601221300-1601232100."

Keith's Update: They did.

Charles D. Walker: Don't relinquish all space exploration to private firms, Charles Walker, Arizona Daily Star

"The idea is attractive, even if commercial plans for a Mars mission are hypothetical at best. But as much as I support the private space industry, experience and common sense tell me that a commercial Mars human landing won't ever get off the ground not unless NASA goes there first. Businesses are slaves to short-term balance sheets, and private space-industry investors and shareholders are notoriously risk-averse. Even wealthy entrepreneurs won't throw their money away. They'll back straightforward missions like delivering cargo to the space station 250 miles above the Earth using mature and well-tested technologies if they can turn a profit within a reasonable time with acceptable risk."

Keith's note: This is the sort of Pro-SLS, only-government-can-explore sort of nonsense that Mary Lynne Dittmar and her Coalition for Deep Space Exploration are pushing. (this op ed is linked to from the Coalition's website). This is how Dittmar retweeted a link to this op ed:

This statement by Dittmar is fundamentally silly given that the "whims of market or investors" are precisely what push the management of Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Orbital ATK, ULA, Aerojet, and the rest of the aerospace sector to pursue big government projects such as Orion and SLS. Dittmar can't have it both ways.

Keith's additional note: At the NASA Advisory Council meeting last year, Bill Gerstenmaier made it very clear that NASA needs to have a fully commercialized LEO infrastructure in order to free up NASA resources to focus on SLS/Orion-based exploration of cislunar space - and later, of Mars. When asked what would happen if that LEO commercialization did not happen, Gerstenmaier said that NASA would have to reassess how it would accomplish its exploration goals. Clearly, Mary Lynn Dittmar, NASA's future exploration of space is intimately tied to the success of LEO commercialization - an activity that will be driven by the "whims of market or investors". Besides, everyone knows that NASA's ability to explore is, always has been, and always will be "held hostage to whims of" -- Congress. As such, what is wrong with trying to find an alternate path to enable the exploration and utilization of space?

SpaceX Puts Jason-3 In Orbit and Almost Lands On A Barge (With launch video), SpaceRef

"The Jason-3 Satellite was successfully place in orbit today by a Falcon 9. However while that rocket's first stage landed within 1.3 meters of its target on the barge leg #3 did not lock properly."

Jason-3 Launches to Monitor Global Sea Level Rise

Instagram video of landing

RUD = "Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly"

Keith's note: I received a hard copy of NASA Spinoff 2016 today. I have not actually held a hard copy of this publication in a long time. Having worked on portions of NASA Spinoff reports in the 80s and early 90s I have to say that this document is much more detailed and varied than what I worked on back in the day. That said, as hard as this office tries to include things, they often mission some glaringly obvious spinoffs. In one instance they missed a spinoff that has actually saved lives all by itself. The spinoff NASA missed is FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response), an innovative device developed by JPL that uses radar to detect the heartbeats of people buried under rubble after a natural disaster such as an earthquake. Alas there is no mention of FINDER in the 2016 or 2015 NASA Spinoff reports. There was no 2014 report. If it is mentioned somewhere in these reports, then I apologize, but I could not find it.

On 24 April 2015 a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal - a nation woefully unprepared to respond to such an event. NASA FINDER technology was on site with a very short period of time and was used to locate victims under collapsed buildings. The basic technology behind FINDER is a microwave radar system that can detect a human heartbeat as well as their breathing under 30 feet of rubble or through 20 feet of solid concrete. The device is so precise that it can differentiate between a human and animals. This amazing device has quite a story. NASA and DHS sponsored a media demonstration in May 2015 while rescue operations were still underway in Nepal. I wrote about this in "Using Space Radar To Hear Human Heartbeats in Nepal". NASA also put a prominent feature online as well. Yet NASA's Spinoff people seem to not be paying complete attention to what the agency is actually doing.

Again, while NASA's tech transfer and spinoff efforts have made great improvements, they still manage to pass over some truly amazing pieces of technology that NASA has developed - hardware with a proven ability to save lives.

- Another NASA Spinoff That NASA Ignores, earlier post
- NASA's Latest Stealth Spinoff, earlier post
- Another NASA Spinoff That NASA Isn't Telling You About, earlier post

NASA Awards International Space Station Cargo Transport Contracts

"NASA has awarded three cargo contracts to ensure the critical science, research and technology demonstrations that are informing the agency's journey to Mars are delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) from 2019 through 2024. The agency unveiled its selection of Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia; Sierra Nevada Corporation of Sparks, Nevada; and SpaceX of Hawthorne, California to continue building on the initial resupply partnerships with two American companies."

Building a Robust Commercial Market in Low Earth Orbit En Route to Mars, NASA

"NASA is on a Journey to Mars and a new consensus is emerging around our plan, vision and timetable for sending American astronauts to the Red Planet in the 2030s. Our strategy calls for working with commercial partners to get our astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station while NASA also focuses - simultaneously -- on getting our astronauts to deep space."

- CSF Congratulates ISS Commercial Resupply Awardees and Partners
- NASA Selects Orbital ATK For Space Station Cargo Contract
- NASA Selects Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser Spacecraft for CRS2 Contract
-Smith, Babin Congratulate NASA Commercial Cargo Awardees

Yosemite to Rename Several Iconic Places, Outside

"Bid goodbye to Yosemite's familiar Ahwahnee hotel, Yosemite Lodge, the Wawona Hotel, Curry Village, and Badger Pass ski areaor their names, anyway. The National Park Service said today it will rename many well-known spots in Yosemite, as part of an ongoing legal dispute with an outgoing concessionaire that has trademarked many names in the world-famous park."

Yosemite Forced to Rename All Its Hotels Due to an Opportunistic Intellectual Property Battle, Gizmodo

"Concessionaire Delaware North, which previously ran The Ahwahnee, Curry Village, and other properties at Yosemite, claims it was forced to purchase the intellectual property of the properties it operated, including the names, in 1993. Now Delaware North has lost the park contract to competitor Aramark and wants to be paid $50 million for the naming rights."

Keith's 14 January update: I am told that NASA will NOT be issuing a statement after all with regard to Trademarks held for "space shuttle atlantis" by Delaware North - the same company that ran services at Yosemite and still runs the KSC Visitor's Center.

Video: SpaceX Recap of Falcon 9 Launch and Landing

SpaceX has released a slick new video of the December 21 Falcon 9 launch with new footage from the landing. Put it full screen, turn up the volume and enjoy.

Layoffs at Bigelow

Statement by Robert Bigelow Regarding Bigelow Aerospace Staff Reducations

"In December of 2015, we analyzed the amount of staff that we employed throughout all of our departments at Bigelow Aerospace, and discovered that numerous departments were overstaffed. Regrettably, we had to make the choice that, beginning with the New Year, we need to follow standard business protocols, which sensibly requires an attempt to achieve balance in how much staff is necessary. These layoffs will not compromise in any way our ability to execute the work and activities that we presently have ongoing."

Big Changes at Space News, Inc., SpacePolicy Online

"An email from Space News Publisher Bill Klanke last month announced that the "must read" newspaper/website for anyone who wants to know what's happening in the space business (apart from SpacePolicyOnline.com, of course!) was changing from a weekly newspaper to bi-weekly magazine format. The difficulties facing news publications in today's digital/social media age are well documented and that alone was not much of a surprise. But farewell messages today from Executive Editor Warren Ferster, a 21-year Space News veteran, and reporter Dan Leone, who covered the NASA beat, were stunning."

Keith's note: We at NASAWatch.com and SpaceRef.com wish Warren and Dan the best and hope that our friends at Space News continue to cover the space beat as they have for several decades.

Keith's update: Space News Copy Chief Todd Windsor and Office Manager Christine Frazee were also let go.

Keith's note: Now that Sen. Shelby has used his Dark Side powers to enable ULA's addiction to Russian engines to continue, ULA is off using its staff to sow seeds of anti-reusable technology such as that being promoted by SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic. This slow motion desperation is a clear sign of a paradigm shift that has begun to leave some companies behind. In this case its ULA.

- ULA Gets A Russian Christmas Gift From Sen. Shelby, earlier post
- Sen. Shelby: The King Of Political Cronyism and Hypocrisy, earlier post
- Knights Templar Inspired Business Moves at ULA, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Commercialization category from January 2016.

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